Youngsters are the suspects in a series of fires that occurred over the past four months in empty houses in Saverton.
The Ralls County Sheriff’s Department announced Thursday the completion of a joint investigation with the Missouri State Fire Marshall’s Office into three suspicious fires that occurred in vacant structures in the Ralls County community on Sept. 9 and Oct. 5 of last year and Jan. 26 of this year. In a media release Ralls County Sheriff Gerry Dinwiddie reported it was determined that each of the fires was intentionally set.
This investigation also led to the closing of a burglary investigation at the Saverton Community Center that occurred in late 2012.
Dinwiddie could not be reached for additional comments on Thursday. The state Division of Fire Safety declined to provide any details regarding what led investigators to suspect juveniles might have been involved.
The matter has now been turned over to juvenile authorities. Scott Burow, chief deputy juvenile officer for the 10th Judicial Circuit, would not say how many youngsters are suspects.
“I know multiple youths were interviewed, but I don’t know how many were involved,” he said. “We will make a determination on who was involved and what we will do based upon the evidence. But we’re just in the very beginning of this and have not reviewed all the paperwork.”
According to Burow, the investigation has just concluded.
“They’ve been working on it and from what I hear they’ve done a pretty good job on the investigation with the fire marshal. We’ll be taking a look at it and seeing what we can do to get the problem solved,” he said.
Burow could not say how quickly the process will move along.
“It just depends on the specific facts of the case. Not having reviewed that (details) yet it’s hard to say,” he said.
All three fires were discovered in the early morning hours.
In September, a neighbor awoke around 4:30 a.m. to find the house at 12856 Saverton Dr. engulfed in flames. Because of the extent of damage to the structure the fire’s cause was listed as “undetermined.”
A neighbor suspected the October fire, discovered shortly before 6 a.m. at 12680 Saverton Dr., was caused by lightning. A state Fire Marshal investigator was called in to investigate the blaze in the house that had stood vacant for approximately six months and was reportedly not connected to utilities.
The January fire destroyed a vacant home at 13133 Highway E. It was reported around 4 a.m. when someone driving by noticed a small fire and reported it.